Last week, Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi visited the White House for talks with U.S. President Barack Obama regarding counterterrorism and Yemen’s democratic transition. In an email interview, Danya Greenfield, deputy director of the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East and head of the Yemen Policy Initiative at the Atlantic Council, explained the recent history and current state of the U.S.-Yemen relationship.
WPR: How does the U.S. relationship with President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi compare with its relationship with former President Ali Abdullah Saleh?
Danya Greenfield: The United States’ working relationship with Hadi is far more positive, transparent and consistent than it was with Saleh. With Saleh, the U.S. had no choice but to work closely with him and his top military leaders to have an effective counterterrorism program, yet there was a sense that he could not be fully trusted. There is a widespread view that Saleh played the Americans, overinflating the threat of extremists in Yemen or tacitly turning a blind eye to them, in order to sustain or increase U.S. security assistance. This is not the case with Hadi, who I believe genuinely wants to bring stability and improve the quality of life for Yemenis.